The Maya civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions during the first millennium A.D. You can still see evidence of these pre-Columbian civilizations at more than 5,000 archaeological sites. After almost three centuries as a Spanish colony, Guatemala won its independence in 1821.
Experts believe the word Guatemala derives from the indigenous Nahuatl word “Quahtlemallan,” meaning “land of many trees.”
Today the country has 4 cultures. These cultures are Ladina, Xinca, Garifuna, and Mayan.
The country is home to more than 30 volcanoes, many of them still active.
Spoken languages are Spanish (official) and about twenty Mayan languages especially in rural areas.

Guatemala’s national bird is the quetzal, a long-tailed bird that lives largely in humid forests. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see them in the wild, but you can see them every day on Guatemalan bank notes, as the currency is also named after the bird.

Maximón, also known as San Simón, is an important Mayan folk saint in Guatemala represented by a dressed up wooden effigy sitting on a chair who, unlike other saints, smokes cigars and drinks alcohol. Every year, he moves from one house to another in the place in which he resides, especially in the Guatemalan highlands he originates from, that is in Santiago Atitlán. He represents the resilience of Mayan people in the light of their struggles against oppression, a symbol of hope and transformation.

One of Guatemala forms of transportation is called a tuk tuk. In a form of a taxi, Guatemala is loaded with these little three wheel vehicles running around taking people from place to place.
Cocoa was a very important product for the Mayan people; so much so, it was used as currency. But they also used it for cooking and baking, as they are considered the inventors of the chocolate bar. So they say, chocolate is originally from Guatemala.
Actually the word ‘chocolate’ comes from the Maya word ‘xocoatl’ which means bitter water. At the time, cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink. As sugar was not yet discovered, different spices were used to add flavour, including hot chilli peppers – which are used in gourmet chocolate production today.